The National Museum
Suðurgata, 101 Reykjavík
The National Museum (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) picks up the first place yet again, but not simply due to its institutional status. What our panel felt made it such a successful museum in its category was how the curation offers the exact right scope to view Icelandic history — it’s condensed, but not too condensed. The past year saw them explore new angles from which to view the Icelandic national identity, including an exhibit on inheritance that highlighted the stark poverty of Icelanders prior to the 20th century, as they left their children the trifles of daily life upon their passing (down to a pair of underwear with a hole in it). The National Museum has also entered into successful partnerships with contemporary artists and designers to find new ways to explore Icelandic history in the making.
Einar Jónsson Museum
Hallgrímstorg 3, 101 Reykjavík
Once an imposing castle structure perched alone atop a barren hill, this building inspired by basalt hexagons is unmissable to anyone passing by Hallgrímskirkja church. A former home to one of Iceland’s foremost sculptors, Einar Jónsson, it now houses his works and the charming sculpture garden, which plays home to Einar’s unmissable fascination with Norse mythology.
The Settlement Exhibition Reykjavík 871±2
Aðalstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík
Most of the time, you won’t find anything more interesting in the basement of a hotel than a laundry room or the occasional haunting. But underneath the Hotel Reykjavík Centrum you will find the 871±2 settlement exhibition. This exhibition explores the remains of a viking longhouse from the settlement age, which was excavated right on that spot in 2001 and remains one of the oldest man-made structures found in Iceland (from circa 871, hence the name). What better place to build an archeological museum but right in the spot where you found the damn thing, amirite?
2022: The National Museum
2021: The National Museum
2020: The National Museum
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